Alabama Football: Time for Pete Golding to let the rabbits loose

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football is loaded at outside linebacker. The Crimson Tide’s rabbit formations in nickel and dime sets can become mainstays of the 2021 defense.

Nick Saban’s complicated Alabama Football defense is used to negate the strengths of opponents. The various formations are designed to not only stop opposing offenses but also to dictate what types of plays an opponent runs. Saban’s ‘D’ thrives on matchups favorable to the Tide by reducing the productivity of an opponent’s best players.

With the exception of the Ole Miss and Florida games last season, the Crimson Tide ‘D’ did its job well. Against  Lane Kiffin’s and Dan Mullen’s offenses, the Crimson Tide gave up 379 (Ole Miss) and 408 (Florida) passing yards. Ole Miss also had success on the ground, especially with Snoop Conner. Matt Corral had an efficient game against the Tide, getting his 379 passing yards on just 29 passes. Kyle Trask hurt the Tide with his arm, but was less efficient, needing 40 throws to connect for his 408 yards.

The two offenses caused problems for the Tide defense when Matt Corral and Kyle Trask were not pressured. Against Corral, the Crimson Tide produced two sacks and three quarterback hurries. Against Trask, the Tide defense produced no quarterback hurries but was outstanding with five sacks.

There was a major difference in the two games because of one player. That player was true freshman, outside linebacker, Will Anderson Jr. In the first six games of Anderson’s Crimson Tide career, he had zero sacks and two quarterback hurries. In the last seven Alabama Football games of the championship season, Anderson had seven sacks and four quarterback hurries. In addition, Anderson finished the season with 10.5 tackles for a loss. He forced a fumble in the SEC Championship game.

Alabama Football Edge Demon – Will Anderson Jr.

The maturation of Anderson as the season progressed, turned him into one of the SEC’s best defensive players. He was named a Freshman All-American by 247Sports, and from the Football Writers Association of America was named the Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year.

Before the end of the 2020 season, Will Anderson became everything the Crimson Tide wants in a rabbit, edge rusher – and more. Anderson is more than a pass-rushing specialist, but if opponents don’t double him throughout 2021, he will lead the SEC in getting to the quarterback.

And Pete Golding has other rabbits he can unleash in Chris Braswell, Quandarrius Robinson and Drew Sanders. Most frequently lining up on the opposite side from Anderson will be Chris Allen. Though not a typical edge rusher, Allen had six sacks and 13 tackles for a loss last season.

Sacks and quarterback hurries should increase in 2021. Particularly if Pete Golding relies on the Tide’s rabbit formations and personnel more frequently.

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The sources used for stats in the post were and